Healthy Dessert Experiment: Flourless Fruit Crumble

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Crumbles are one of my favourite desserts. A great example of how a little goes a long way: fruit + a few other ingredients, put together in a way that transforms everything into a warm happy mess :D And I’ve realized they can be real crowd pleasers, too. I think the humble crumble- and her many cousins- are uncomplicated, forgiving desserts that won’t let you down.

Yeah. I really feel for crumble. Is it strange to have feelings for a dessert?

Hmmm…I’ve come this far, so I might as well take the liberty to ramble a little longer. Here are 5 more reasons why I think you absolutely must involve crumbles in your dessert routine.

  • Crispy on top + juicy and melting beneath.
  • No fancy baking equipment required. No whisking. No whipping. You don’t even need a fork!
  • You can serve them individually.
  • It takes less time to assemble than a pie or a cake.
  • You can make them with any kind of fruit! (Ok, perhaps not with watermelon. We’d best leave those for juices, smoothies or as they are. But has anyone had a watermelon crumble? Let me know.)

This *healthy* crumble came about as a way to use up leftover almond meal and Granny Smith apples. I usually make my crumble topping with some butter, sugar, flour and oats, but I thought Hey! Almond meal. Why not? And if you have a guest, friend or anybody who eats gluten-free, then this crumble is the way to go. (I pulse my own almond meal with the skin on, FYI.)

The flourless stone fruit crumble from It's All Good image courtesy  | www.self.com

Flourless stone fruit crumble from It’s All Good
image courtesy | http://www.self.com

The inspiration for this recipe comes from the Flourless Anything Crumble recipe from It’s All Good. In it, Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen came up with a vegan, sugar-free and gluten-free crumble recipe, for any kind of stone fruit. I didn’t go the vegan or sugar-free route, just opted for the use of almond meal instead of flour. You could easily stick to the healthier option as outlined in the book: leave out the butter, swap the oats for quinoa flakes, and sub the granulated sugar for a combination of maple syrup + brown rice syrup. (Quinoa flakes and brown rice syrup are things I will probably not buy. Like ever. So I just converted the healthy recipe into a with-sugar, with-dairy version.)

 

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FLOURLESS APPLE CRUMBLE (Adapted from It’s All Good.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups Granny Smith Apples, cored and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar+ 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ tablespoon lemon or lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • 2-3 tablespoons cold butter

METHOD

  • Preheat the oven to 200 C
  • In a bowl, toss the chopped apples with the lemon/lime juice, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and cinnamon powder and set aside.
  • In another bowl, mix the almond meal and 4 tablespoons granulated sugar until well combined.
  • Work the cold butter into the almond meal mixture with your fingers until it’s rubble-y and like wet sand.
  • Divide the chopped apples between individual ramekins.
  • Crumble the mixture over the fruit and bake until the top is browned, about 15-20 minutes. (Do check on your crumbles, since oven temperatures vary- I took mine out at 15, other ovens may need more or less time.)

 

Nigella Lawson’s Baby Bundts + Making Allowances

Does the world need another recipe for a lemony cake? I suppose not. But is this one worth sharing? Yes. I think all cake is worth sharing!

I’ve been baking quite a lot from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess over the past two months. It’s a book I’ve owned for over 2 years, but it’s only now getting some quality time in the kitchen.  I’ve made a few of her recipes before- cherry-almond loaf cake, store-cupboard chocolate orange cake, Victoria sponge cake, and some others, with pretty good results.

The new cover  image courtesy | nigella.com

The new cover
image courtesy | nigella.com

The old edition, which I have image courtesy | unibooks.co.au

The old edition, which I have
image courtesy | unibooks.co.au

The thing with me is, I try new recipes often enough, but when it comes to baking something for a potluck or dinner party, I always end up baking the same few recipes over and over again. There’s Nigella’s chocolate olive oil cake, a simple vanilla sponge cake, or a lemony loaf cake. I get nervous about busting out something new that I’ve never baked before.

I am also hit with a slight sense of anxiety: invariably, there will be someone in the party who detests a particular flavour; and it is near impossible to please everyone. When I bake, I pretty much choose between two broad categories: is it going to be a chocolatey cake, or a fruity one? (This could be anything from a citrusy oil-based cake to banana bread or a strawberry/apple cake.) If I decide to make a fruity cake, there will be someone who detests Granny Smith apples, cannot stomach strawberries or hates bananas.

And with chocolate- yes, there are plenty of people who really do not like chocolate. Being a chocoholic myself, I used to find it absurd. I couldn’t understand how people could dislike the taste of chocolate, or caramel, or dislike dessert altogether. I’d feel bad if someone passed up dessert, or said, “I don’t eat chocolate, I’ll pass.” Even though they had a perfectly valid reason- I’d still feel a bit let down. They don’t like cake. They don’t want my cake. When cooking and gathering around the table to feed friends and family is your happy place, you have a tendency to be blind to smaller appetites and cautious eaters.

And then I looked at my own eating habits. I am not a big meat-eater. If there’s mutton masala, fish curry or fried prawns on table, I’ll eat a small amount. I usually don’t take seconds, and even with biryani, I end up taking a single piece of chicken or meat, while the rest of the party is digging in for more. Being less enthusiastic about non-vegetarian food- this behaviour could very well be perceived as strange by the host/hostess, right? S/he could be thinking: Meenakshi doesn’t like my mutton masala.

So when it comes to personal taste, one really can’t judge.Some of us don’t enjoy meat. Some people just really.hate.chocolate. And while my 20-year-old self would have gotten all high-pitchy with a chocolate-hater and argued “How can anyone NOT like chocolate?,” now I’ve learnt to just let it be. Create with love and serve everyone: if they enjoy it and get themselves seconds, wonderful. If they’d rather not indulge, it’s all good. Make allowances. Be accepting of tastes not aligned with your own.

This recipe is also about making allowances. It’s a recipe for baby bundts- except I don’t have a bundt pan, baby or XL. I do own a mini donut tray, so I used that instead. So it’s not a baby bundt- but maybe we can pretend it’s a baby ring cake?

We had a family potluck last month and I decided to make this instead of my standard chocolate cake or fruity loaf. I figured it would be easy to eat and portion out or carry home. And if someone didn’t like it too much- they’d have to endure only 3-4 bites in total!

The way the ingredients are mixed is muffin-like: wet and dry mixed separately, then combined. Considering the amount of yoghurt in the batter, I expected a moister cake, but this one was quite springy. The glaze, of course, helped. All in all it’s a fun and agreeable little cake- not too fancy, not too shy.

I don’t have a picture of the glaze- but don’t leave it out- it’s not as nice without it :)

NIGELLA LAWSON’S BABY BUNDTS (From How To Be A Domestic Goddess.)

INGREDIENTS

The Cake

  • 125 ml natural yoghurt
  • 75 g butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 150 g flour
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt

The Glaze

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 200 g icing sugar

METHOD

The Cake

  • In a measuring jug or bowl, mix the yoghurt, melted butter, eggs, and lemon zest until combined.
  • In a separate larger bowl, lightly whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, folding until everything is combined.
  • Pour the batter into baby bundt moulds (in my case, mini donut moulds!) and bake at 170 C for 25-30 minutes.
  • Once cooled, ice the cakes with the sugary glaze.

The Glaze

  • Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl, and slowly pour in as much lemon juice as you need to make an icing that is thick enough to hold shape but drizzle down the sides.

 

Raw Papaya Curry | Kapalangya Moru Curry From Diva Green

Why juice and smoothie papayas when you can curry them? I like using nouns as verbs now.
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This one’s also from Ritu Dalmia’s Diva Green, which is fast finding a place in my heart and on my shelf as “favourite cookbook.” The mix of recipes is great- from Indian to Italian and Asian- and I feel you can please any palate with the recipes in this book. And there are enough dessert recipes in there too :D

Papaya curry is not new to me- my grandmom has been making  the same thing for years now. Kapalangya moru curry… but for the uninitiated, it shall be called raw papaya curry. This recipe comes from Ritu Dalmia’s friend Prima Kurian, who is a home caterer. When it comes to food from home, I usually just call my mother, grandmother or mother in law and ask them how to prepare it- I don’t usually read a recipe. But with this one, I followed it to the T, just to see how it would differ from the versions I’d been making so far.

Turns out, with the addition of 2 ingredients, the curry transformed. It hadn’t struck me before, but the version my grandmother makes is saatvik: without garlic /onions in the body and tempering. Not that we follow a saatvik diet, I guess it’s just how she preferred it.

But the garlic and tempered shallots add a lovely pungency to the curry- something I missed from my grandmom’s no onions, no garlic version. It’s amazing how 2 gloves of garlic can transform a dish! (The only change I made was to use only coconut oil for the temper, as opposed to coconut oil + vegetable oil.)

RAW PAPAYA CURRY (Kapalangya Moru Curry) from Diva Green

For The Curry

  • 1/4 cup grated coconut
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 cup raw papaya, skinned with seeds removed
  • 3/4 cup yoghurt
  • Salt to taste

The Tempering

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 4 dry red chillies
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek (methi) seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (jeera) 
  • 2-3 tablespoons sliced shallots
  • A handful of curry leaves

METHOD

  • In a blender, make a fine paste of the grated coconut, garlic, turmeric and green chillies. Add a few spoons of water if you need to.
  • Add the paste to the yogurt and whisk so everything is well combined.
  • Steam the papaya or cook it in water till tender but firm.
  • Add the papaya to the yogurt mix and cook this over low heat for 10 minutes, till the papaya is cooked through, stirring continuously so the curry doesn’t curdle. Pull off heat.
  • In a small frying pan, heat the coconut oil. Add the dry red chillies, the mustard, fenugreek, cumin, sliced shallots and curry leaves and allow everything to sputter.
  • Pour this temper over the curry and serve.